Who Knows “Uno”? The Many Sephardi Versions of a Passover Song

The counting song “Eḥad mi yodei’a” (Who Knows One?), sung toward the very end of the seder, has been a standard element in Ashkenazi Haggadahs since at least the 16th century. It does not appear in most Sephardi versions of the Haggadah, but there are exceptions. In a few local traditions (like that of the Jews of Rhodes), it is generally sung in Ladino, with words somewhat different from the standard Hebrew text. Ty Alhadeff explains. (Audio recordings are included at the link below.)

[A]n exploration of . . . audio recordings of “Ken Supiense” [as the song is called in Ladino]—not only from Rhodes but also from other locales in the former Ottoman empire, including Salonica and present-day Turkey—reveals a wide variety . . . in the song’s wording and melody.

All versions of “Eḥad Mi Yodei’a,” whether in Hebrew or in Yiddish or Ladino translation, agree that, among the thirteen canonical references enumerated in the song, the number one always refer to one God and five always refers to the five books of the Torah. But there are some major variations among the Ladino versions. . . . Perhaps one of the most intriguing differences can be discerned in the varied references in the final, thirteenth, verse. The Rhodesli and Turkish versions do not refer to the thirteen attributes of God’s mercy as the original Hebrew text does, but rather to the renowned medieval sage Moses Maimonides’ thirteen principles of faith. . . .

The specific importance of these thirteen principles in the Sephardi tradition is reflected in the Ladino saying: está en sus treje (literally, “he is standing on his thirteen”), which refers to someone who is strong in his faith. According to [a] popular legend, . . . this expression dates back to the days of the Spanish Inquisition, when an inquisitor would ask of someone suspected of practicing Judaism in secret: “Está en su treje?” meaning: would a person abandon or stay steadfast in his belief in the thirteen principles of faith?

Read more at Stroum Center for Jewish Studies

More about: Haggadah, Ladino, Passover, Religion & Holidays, Rhodes, Sephardim


Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security